Whether it’s real life narratives or mythological tales, common themes found in women’s stories include self-identity, motherhood, transformation, abuse, aging, and love. The entertaining and ultimately uplifting production The Goddess Diaries, written by Carol Lee Campbell and directed by Gregory Stuart, explores these themes as ten women of diverse ages converge for a birthday party, where stories are told and secrets revealed.
While the stories don’t really break new ground, they range from the sweet—a young girl’s first boy-girl party, to tragic—sexual abuse by a church youth group leader, to humorous—a pregnant mom’s road trip with her mother and two young children. Tamieka Chavis is the most compelling actor on stage in the role of Sarah, a woman who was preyed upon by a staff member at her church. We feel her loss of innocence, first as she tells of the man she thought loved her but discovered he was nothing more than a pedophile and second as the congregation shuns her after she finds the courage to speak out.
Christine Callsen and Amy Pastoor keep the show from taking itself too seriously. Their deft comedic skills and their playful performances are welcome respites from the much heavier subject matter. The cast felt like a cohesive ensemble, comfortable in their roles and with one another. The only piece that felt awkward was the continual comings and goings of the actresses as they, one-by-one, would make a costume change to allow us see the goddess being described prior to a story. James Stillwell ably portrays many roles, both contemporary and mythic, in his role as “Man”. Remember, this is The Goddess Diaries so the men in the stories are reduced to rather two-dimensional parts.
For me, the highlight of the production was the music. Five songs sprinkled throughout the show were performed beautifully by vocalist Ariana Lightningstorm, cellist Diana McFadden, drummer John Sausser, and the entire cast. The music helped to bring a deeper emotional level to the stories.
Running Time: 75 minutes.
The Goddess Diaries plays through July 24, 2013, at The Mountain – at Mount Vernon United Methodist Church – 900 Massachusetts Ave NW, in Washington, DC. For performance times and to purchase tickets, visit the show’s Capital Fringe page.